After inexplicably describing the September bailout of Wall Street as a package that would “help those who are concerned about health care reform,” Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) yesterday unveiled a hodgepodge of different health care initiatives no more effective in tackling the state’s higher-than average health care costs and uninsured rate.
At best, Palin’s proposals are small steps to a larger reform effort. At worst they’re a wholly inadequate set of ‘pilot programs’ designed to bolster Palin’s health care credentials without accomplishing much at all.
With efforts like these, who needs access to care?:
With amazing outdoor activities in fresh clean air and consumption of healthy clean protein in the form of wild game and Alaska’s sea food. We got berries, we’ve got Alaskan-grown produce and those things need to be promoted.
Outdoor activity is not a “silver bullet” to increasing health outcomes, Palin confessed. Other “fiscally responsible” approaches must be considered:
- Greater deregulation: Palin had previously led an effort to repeal Certificate of Need laws, (CON) — “a regulatory process that requires certain health care providers to obtain state approval before offering certain new or expanded service.” Despite evidence that repealing CON laws would drive-up health care costs, Palin claimed that loosening CON laws would “invite more competition in our larger market to provide health care.”
- Purchasing insurance across state lines: In a throw-back to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) health care plan, Palin promised to “support efforts on a national level for allowance of residents in one state to look for insurance in other states, again all in the name of competition, resulting, ideally, in more affordability, in addition to supporting other national initiatives that newly election administration coming into office can provide opportunity for.”
- Web-MD Alaska: Called, ‘Live Well Alaska,’ this website “pulls together all the best advises for healthy eating and exercise and quitting smoking and it also incentivizes healthy life styles with Alaskan stories and health challenges..” “Alaskans are unfortunately becoming dangerously unhealthy due to poor diet or little or no exercise…each of us must take personal responsibility for our level of health, those things we can control, and not look to government to make us healthy…’Live Well Alaska’ will help.”
- Alaska Health Care Commission: “The purpose of this is to provide recommendations for and foster developments of the state wide plan to address the quality, accessibility, and availability, of health care here in Alaska and this is the result of our Health Care Council’s recommendations to do so.”
- Boost funding to Denali Kid Care (SCHIP): Palin proposed increasing eligibility from 175% to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level to cover an additional 1,300 kids. “It’s going to be good for more children to be on the rolls to have the opportunity for the coverage,” Palin announced. When questioned why she previously opposed such an expansion, Palin explained that she appointed “new commissioners” with a “new vision.”
What’s missing from Palin’s plan is broad access to affordable coverage or cost-containment measures to make reform possible. Let’s hope her Health Care Commission, the members of which have yet to be appointed, offers a more comprehensive proposal.